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Simon Still
2005-12-08, 07:17
Apologies if this is a little off topic but i'm looking for a new portable
player to sit alongside my Squeezeboxes. At the moment i've a first
generation ipod 10gb. Battery life is poor and the charger is large.

I'd like something that runs off either an AA or AAA battery and some
flexibility in the formats played. My music is currently 256VBR (lame
alt-preset extreme) or 320CBR MP3 but i've a lot of corrupt files so plan
to rerip in a lossless format when the next gen of hard discs arrives (i'm
at 70gig at present so think i'd be north of 250gb at lossless).

IRiver T30 struck me as an option - any others?

eq72521
2005-12-08, 09:20
If you're planning on going with a single lossless library, I'm not sure that the T30 will work well for you. Even if it did support a lossless format, its storage capacity (max 1GB) wouldn't allow you to hold more than 3 (or maybe 4 or 5 classical) CDs, at best. Assuming you go with FLAC, your list of players is fairly limited according to the FLAC hardware page at http://flac.sourceforge.net/links.html#hardware: a few from Cowon, a few of the iRiver Hard Drive based players with a third party firmware replacement, or the Rio Karma. The latter is discontinued and from what I've been able to tell has some hardware issues that have caused an inordinate number to malfunction and/or stop working.

That said, in considering this issue myself recently I decided that having lossless copies for a portable/car player was an unneccesary requirement. It seriously limits your choice of players (as does requiring Ogg Vorbis support, as I did until recently) and I don't think offers sufficient advantage in the portable/car listening environment.

In my setup now, I maintain two libraries: FLAC and lame 3.96.1 -V 6 MP3. I know the MP3s are rather low quality, but as their target is the car/portable, small filesize is more important: in that environment, I just don't notice the mediocre encoding, but YEMV (your ears may vary). I use the lossless copy for the SqueezeBox and home computer listening. If in the future I decide that I want higher quality MP3s (or even some other format, like Ogg), re-encoding can be done from the FLACs mostly non-interactively; I won't have to rip my CDs ever again discounting a house fire that knocks out all my backups.

Back to your original question. Assuming you use a similar setup, your options are then open to any player that plays MP3s (most anything), without locking yourself into a particular format or bitrate forever and without sacrificing sound quality where it matters (home). A downside I found in most players (including the T30 and other flash-based offerings from iRiver) is that they are limited to the amount of storage they are sold with. 1GB really isn't that much (~20 CDs at best), especially if you're used to the 10GB iPod. I'm personally used to bringing 40-60 CDs on trips. Also, if the flash memory goes bad on the player, you're in the market for a whole new player. As such, I looked for players that had a slot for some kind of external storage. In the end I went with the decidedly no-frills Lexar LDP 200 (http://lexar.com/mp3/index.html). It has *no* internal storage, just an SD card slot. Right now I have just 640M of storage in two cards, but I figure some day SD cards will be $10/G or less and I can pick up a bunch. As I said, the player is seriously no frills, and I do have some minor qualms, but overall it has been great.

This has been long winded enough. If you're interested in more information/opinions/qualms, let me know and I'll elaborate.

dwc
2005-12-08, 10:17
Check into the Cowon (IAudio) X-5.

www.iaudiophile.net

- Sounds good.
- Plays FLAC as well as mp3, etc.
- FM radio, voice recording, etc.
- No s/w required. It shows up as a drive letter, so drag and drop files onto it.

The biggest drawback for some users is that it doesn't support browsing by tags, you browse only by folder structure. They say that that might be added in a future firmware upgrade.

-Dan

Simon Still
2005-12-08, 13:05
On 12/8/05, eq72521 <eq72521.1zqbzn (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:


In my setup now, I maintain two libraries: FLAC and lame 3.96.1 -V 6
> MP3. I know the MP3s are rather low quality, but as their target is
> the car/portable, small filesize is more important:


I think you're completely right on that being the solution - that's what i'd
do as well, so the format played becomes irrelevant. FLAC at home and mp3
for portables


> 1GB really isn't that much (~20
> CDs at best), especially if you're used to the 10GB iPod.


However, as soon as you have >10gb of music you're moving stuff back and
forth and never have what you want anyway.


Also, if the flash memory goes bad on the player, you're in the market for a
> whole new
> player. As such, I looked for players that had a slot for some kind of
> external storage.


A nice idea - again, that was my thinking. I'd be able to carry more than
one card and use them for the camera/pda./phone (though they'll all end up
being different formats in all liklihood).

In the end I went with the decidedly no-frills Lexar
> LDP 200 (http://lexar.com/mp3/index.html).
>
As I said, the player is seriously no frills,
> and I do have some minor qualms, but overall it has been great.



Give me more - what are the drawbacks. I'm just about to go on holiday so
want something for a trip to asia and then something small enough to put in
my pocket rather than bag when cycling to work. plus something with
standard battery. What doesn't this one do?

The other argument is that the iriver is cheap enough to use for a while by
which time another player will be cheap enough......now a 10gb flash player
for 100...

tass
2005-12-08, 14:26
After reading that you guys maintain two libraries, why don't you look into MediaMonkey. Apparently one of the latest (beta) versions allows re-encoding on the fly while you sync a portable to it.
I haven't tried this feature myself, but it at least sounds promising.

eq72521
2005-12-08, 15:49
After reading that you guys maintain two libraries, why don't you look into MediaMonkey. Apparently one of the latest (beta) versions allows re-encoding on the fly while you sync a portable to it.
I haven't tried this feature myself, but it at least sounds promising.

I've considered this approach; there is some other package that's been mentioned on these forums whose name I cannot currently recall that does this as well. However, my feeling is that doing this on-the-fly transcoding when copying to a portable (or other) drive will be considerably slower than just keeping the second library and doing a straight-up copy. When I want to copy files to my portable for a hike or an impromptu road trip, time is of the essence: I want to browse and choose my music, copy, and go. I'm already spending 300-400M per CD for my FLAC copy. Another 40-60M for MP3 isn't adding that much and storage is cheap.

eq72521
2005-12-08, 16:19
Simon Still:

I'm with you on this overabundance of flash memory formats. I'd like it if my camera and MP3 player used the same, but alas it is xD and SD. I'm sure that if I get a third device I'll have a third format with which to contend.

More about the LDP200. First, cost. It's ludicrously cheap. You can get the version without a bundled SD card for less than US$40, and you can pick up SD cards (not necessarily Lexar of course) for about $50-$60 per GB. As with anything, I'd hate to lose it or have it stolen, but if that happens I'll feel a lot better than if I lost an iPod.

But yes, there are drawbacks, mainly surrounding its no-frills design.

First, the *only* method for browsing music is to browse the directory structure you create on the SD card. If you just dump all your files into the root directory, good luck. I personally organize everything in an ~/Artist/Album/00 - Track.mp3 structure so this is no problem for me. Sometimes, I think it would be nice if there were a search function, but I'm mostly a full album listener so again for me it's not a big deal.

For the most part when browsing this directory structure, it organizes alphabetically. However, I noticed once (and haven't experimented more to determine if it's consistent) that it placed Rob Dougan's "Furious Angels (Disc 2)" before "... (Disc 1)". This is irritating, but if it's consistent (again I haven't experimented), I can live with it.

The center control stick *feels* cheap, like I might just break it one day. I'm usually careful with things and perhaps the control stick is tougher than it appears, so hopefully this won't happen.

When you turn the unit turned on after being turned off in the middle of playback, it remembers the track you were playing and starts there, but from the beginning of the track. It doesn't remember the time index within the track.

It has shuffle and repeat functions, but they operate over all the music on the SD card. This is fine as an option, but I wish there were also an option to shuffle/repeat just for a particular folder (which in my case always represent albums).

No Ogg Vorbis support. (This was supposed to be supported in their LDP 800, which never materialized, pushing me back toward MP3 and this player.)

The display (which is easy to read and well backlit) insists on scrolling the track title, even when the title is well short enough to fit the width of the display. The display only shows the track title. There is simply no way to display the artist, album, track number, year, or any other data in the tags. This would be less of an issue to me if the display space available were simply limited, but it is actually quite large. Unfortunately, the designers just made, IMO, poor use of the space. They sacrifice display of things that might interest me as listed above for display of information that I just don't care about: The file format (MP3 or WMA), the bitrate, the sampling frequency (!), as well as a couple of static "icons" whose purpose I have not yet been able to divine. I also don't really need to see at a glance the volume level display, as I can hear it. Although it displays the time index for the track currently playing (updated every second) it would be nice to know the length of the currently playing track.

Yes, I'm extraordinarily picky. As I said though, all of these are *minor* qualms. Overall it's a great basic player.

Still, I'll bet that if Slim Devices made a portable it wouldn't have any of these problems... :)

Brian Ritchie
2005-12-08, 16:19
I use a Creative Zen Touch, my wife has an envy-inspiring Zen Sleek. Battery times to make iPod owners weep, and (crucial for us) can handle WMA as well as mp3.
We use Notmad Explorer (see http://www.redchairsoftware.com/notmad/) to drag-and-drop stuff from my music folders to the Zens; this will transcode as necessary / desired, though most of the time for us it's just going from high-rate WMA to low-rate WMA - not sure what else it supports. (I suspect it transcodes via WAV, so if you bung an X-to-WAV codec somewhere sensible, it'll probably do it.)

-- Brian

Simon Still
2005-12-09, 01:16
On 12/8/05, eq72521 <eq72521.1zqv7b (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:
>
> I'm with you on this overabundance of flash memory formats. I'd like
> it if my camera and MP3 player used the same, but alas it is xD and SD.


it gets worse. I bought a canon camera because it took AA batteries and
compact flash. The new version of the same (which i might buy for the
improved focusing and low light ability, well maybe the version after this
one) is no smaller but uses SD.

The phone i'm looking at takes either mini-sd or reduced size sd (it's not
clear but it looks like there are TWO small SD formats, SD is only postage
stamp sized to start with!). Memory card readers now seem to read about 16
formats - the only consolation is that flash memory is already getting
disposable cheap.

More about the LDP200. First, cost. It's ludicrously cheap. You can
> get the version without a bundled SD card for less than US$40, and you
> can pick up SD cards (not necessarily Lexar of course) for about
> $50-$60 per GB. As with anything, I'd hate to lose it or have it
> stolen, but if that happens I'll feel a lot better than if I lost an
> iPod.


I had a search last night and cant find it anywhere in the UK and i've, of
course, left it a little late to get one before i go away so it might be an
iRiver anyway. i think a tour of London's Tottenham Court Road (electronics
boulevard) is in order.

cliveb
2005-12-09, 02:29
.... the Rio Karma. The latter is discontinued and from what I've been able to tell has some hardware issues that have caused an inordinate number to malfunction and/or stop working.
This isn't going to help the Original Poster (who appears to want a low-capacity flash player running off AAA or AA batteries), but I'd just like to say that my Rio Karma has never given any trouble. As far as I can tell from reading various audio forums, the reports of hard disk failure have been blown out of proportion, and the other failures (mainly the scroll wheel breaking) are typically due to user abuse.

The Rio Karma is the "geek's DAP", and it strikes me that it is the natural DAP for the sort of person who is attracted to the Squeezebox. Despite the design being over 2 years old, it's arguably still the best DAP that was ever made. It supports FLAC and OGG as well as MP3 (although given that it's only 20GB, which kind of rules out FLAC, and OGG decoding eats up battery time, in practice you're best off sticking with MP3). It's a crying shame that the iPod juggernaut killed Rio.

eq72521
2005-12-09, 09:55
This isn't going to help the Original Poster (who appears to want a low-capacity flash player running off AAA or AA batteries), but I'd just like to say that my Rio Karma has never given any trouble. As far as I can tell from reading various audio forums, the reports of hard disk failure have been blown out of proportion, and the other failures (mainly the scroll wheel breaking) are typically due to user abuse.

The Rio Karma is the "geek's DAP", and it strikes me that it is the natural DAP for the sort of person who is attracted to the Squeezebox. Despite the design being over 2 years old, it's arguably still the best DAP that was ever made. It supports FLAC and OGG as well as MP3 (although given that it's only 20GB, which kind of rules out FLAC, and OGG decoding eats up battery time, in practice you're best off sticking with MP3). It's a crying shame that the iPod juggernaut killed Rio.

That's good to hear actually. I was considering a Rio, but the reports combined with the price kept me away from it at the moment. Maybe I'll scour the used market again in 6-12 months and see what I can find.

mrfantasy
2005-12-09, 12:48
I have a two year old Nomad Zen 60GB. They didn't make many with the 60GB drive (you can get the Zen Xtra w/60GB now.)

I too use Notmad Explorer. They have a plugin to do FLAC transcoding. It's taken 5 days to get my collection (11,500 songs, 320GB FLAC) to the player (which will be pretty much full at 160Kbps CBR MP3). That 100 songs an hour so I can't complain.

I am considering a 1GB flash-based player for the gym, running indoors, short trips, etc. I think the Zen Nano Plus would be a good choice for me.


I use a Creative Zen Touch, my wife has an envy-inspiring Zen Sleek. Battery times to make iPod owners weep, and (crucial for us) can handle WMA as well as mp3.
We use Notmad Explorer (see http://www.redchairsoftware.com/notmad/) to drag-and-drop stuff from my music folders to the Zens; this will transcode as necessary / desired, though most of the time for us it's just going from high-rate WMA to low-rate WMA - not sure what else it supports. (I suspect it transcodes via WAV, so if you bung an X-to-WAV codec somewhere sensible, it'll probably do it.)

-- Brian

Simon Still
2005-12-11, 16:23
I bought the iRiver in the end. I needed something this week and it was
the only AAA battery player i could find for sale in Central London. I'm
impressed. Sound is good (and loud), it's easy enough to use and it's
almost weightless and is tiny. The battery door looks like the point of
failure but then it was on my first Sony Walkman 25 years ago so some things
never change. When the tabs break off it i'm sure a piece of gaffa tape
will keep the thing operational.

Cheers for the comments and advice.b

fathom39
2005-12-11, 18:16
This looks interesting - I've seen the 60GB advertised for $299 after rebate.

fathom39
2005-12-11, 18:17
oops, forgot the link

http://www.wolverinedata.com/

stinkingpig
2005-12-11, 21:25
fathom39 wrote:
> This looks interesting - I've seen the 60GB advertised for $299 after
> rebate.
>
>

I'm very happy with my iRiver IHP-120 -- I've had it for two years, and
it's been a solid performer the whole time.

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